Hollinghead donates painting

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 6, 2003

When Trade Day in Brundidge May 5 was cancelled because of a rainstorm, Toby Hollinghead, a folk artist from Opp, didn't pack up and head home. Instead, she packed up and headed up Main Street to the antique auction.

Hollinghead had heard about the "We Piddle Around Theater" in Brundidge and how the widow coverings were paintings by local artists. As she walked the route to the auction building, she passed the theater and was intrigued by what she saw.

Each window contained a painting by Brundidge native, Betty Ross Botts and Hollinghead liked what she saw in the paintings and the building's unusual brickwork done brick masons who worked with the WPA (Works Progress Administration a.k.a. the "We Piddle Around") program.

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"If the outside was that interesting, then I had to see the inside," she said.

Luckily, Hollinghead met a couple of members of the Brundidge Historical Society, producer of the folklife production, "Come Home, It's Suppertime," that plays in the theater.

"They let me go in and look around and I was very impressed by what I saw," she said. "The theater is so unique and has such a warm, down-home atmosphere - with the old brick walls, sawdust on the floor, wooden rafters in the ceiling and the three stages.

"And, the artwork that covered the windows gave the theater such a wonderful flavor. I knew right then that I wanted to be a part of it."

Hollinghead went back to Opp with visions of the folklife theater dancing in her head.

The theater, the former Brundidge City Hall, was built in 1940 and the folklife play is set during the era of the Great Depression.

Hollinghead only knew what she had heard and read about "Hoover Days" but she knew, first hand, about the stories told on stage about "hard times."

"I saw in the play program the one of the scenes was about cotton pickin' time and I knew a lot about that," Hollinghead said. "My mama raised six 'young'uns - me being next to last.

"We were poor but proud. We worked in the all the fields - cotton, peas, beans - you name it, we hoed it. These memories are a part of me and I want to share them with others through my paintings."

These memories of Hollinghead's days in the cotton field, she wanted to share with all those who visit the "We Piddle Around Theater. So, she had her husband cut a piece of plyboard for a canvas and she painted what she remembered about her days in the cotton field."

On Friday, she came to Brundidge to present the 4×4-foot painting to the Brundidge Historical Society, so she can be a part of the unique experience of folklife theater.

"My paintings come from the heart and are based on my memories as a little girl," Hollinghead said. "The folklife play is another way of sharing memories and of telling young people about the 'good ol' days.' I hope there will be a memory in my painting that others can relate to and maybe make them smile - just as the stories told on stage do. It's an honor for me to have a painting hanging in the 'We Piddle Around Theater.'"

Lawrence Bowden, production manager for the theater, and Dinah Kelsey, treasurer, accepted the donation and expressed appreciation to Hollinghead for the work of art and for her interest and support of the theater."

Bowden said her painting is the first work not done by a local artist. That validates what the historical group believes - that everyone wants be able to come home when it's suppertime."